Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA)?
Kindergarten Entry Assessments (KEAs) are a single component within a complex coordinated assessment system that provides data about children’s progress over time, (PreK through grade 12), and are designed to address both educational policy and practice questions.
KEAs are intended to be used to directly support children’s development & academic achievement to improve educational outcomes. KEAs address multiple developmental domains and diverse cultural contexts, and are often used to determine how “ready” a child is for kindergarten. School readiness encompasses a range of child development domains:
- Physical well-being and motor development
- Socio-emotional development
- Approaches toward learning
- Language and emergent literacy
- Cognitive skills
- Consider linguistic and cultural differences
- Consider special learning needs and abilities
- Align with early learning guidelines and state standards
- Should collect information from multiple sources
- Should include information from previous early childhood placements, families, and community informants
KEAs are not appropriate for the following purposes:
- High stakes decisions about program or teacher quality,effectiveness, or accountability
- Labeling children as ready to attend school or not
- Restricting kindergarten entry or tracking young children into two-year programs prior to grade 1
- Measuring more than what their design was intended to measure
- Predicting future academic achievement
What is the KOT?
The KOT is an observational tool to be used at kindergarten entry (a kindergarten entry assessment or KEA) developed by the state of New Mexico.
What is the purpose of the KOT?
The purpose of the KOT is to gather information about what children know and can do at the time of kindergarten entry. The KOT will serve as a “bridge” between preschool and grade 1.
Will the KOT be used to place students into Special Education (gifted or exceptionalities)?
No, the KOT was not designed to be used as a placement tool for students.
How will KOT results be used?
How was the KOT developed?
The KOT design is based on a PreK instrument, New Mexico’s PreK Observational Assessment Tool, that has been successfully used in New Mexico for many years. New Mexico enlisted support from WestEd to conduct a validation study to determine the appropriateness of New Mexico’s current PreK assessment, the PreK Observational Assessment Tool, for use as a Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA). In addition to the validation study, WestEd conducted a preliminary survey of New Mexico teachers and other stakeholders, with the intent of learning more about the perceptions of current pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers about testing at kindergarten entry. A pilot version of the KOT was produced using feedback from the survey and input from New Mexico stakeholders. The KOT pilot was implemented by kindergarten teachers in Fall 2014. Further revisions to the KOT were made using feedback from a survey of teachers’ experiences with the pilot, analysis of pilot data, and feedback from a post-pilot focus group. The revised version of the KOT was field tested in Fall 2015. Additional revisions were made to the KOT following feedback from field test participants and trainers via surveys and focus groups. The KOT will be implemented statewide in Summer 2016 for K-3 Plus program students and Fall 2016 for all districts and charter schools.
Is the KOT aligned with the New Mexico Kindergarten Standards?
Yes. Each indicator has been specifically aligned to one or more New Mexico Kindergarten Standards.
Is the KOT aligned with the Common Core State Standards?
The KOT indicators within the literacy and numeracy domains are aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
How does the KOT align to the Pre-K Observational Assessment Tool?
The KOT was developed using the same child outcomes that are used by the PreK Observational Assessment Tool and the New Mexico Early Learning Guidelines, known as the ELG. The ELG serve as a framework for the development of children in early childhood. They give educators criteria to refer to as they plan curriculum and observe and evaluate student performance. The KOT and the PreK Observational Assessment Tool share many of the same outcomes and indicators.
What are the areas being assessed?
The New Mexico Early Learning Guidelines (ELG) cover 7 Developmental Domains:
- Physical Development Health and Well Being
- Aesthetic Creativity
- Scientific Conceptual Understanding
- Self Family and Community
- Approaches to Learning
All of domains listed above (with the exception of Aesthetic Creativity) will be covered by the KOT. In addition to these developmental domains, the following domains have been linked to the New Mexico Kindergarten Standards and are represented on the KOT:
- Physical Education
- English Language Arts
- Social Studies
Why are these areas being assessed?
Research has shown that KEAs must address multiple developmental domains and diverse cultural contexts. School readiness encompasses a range of child development domains, including:
- Physical well-being and motor development;
- Socio-emotional development;
- Approaches toward learning;
- Language and emergent literacy; and
- Cognitive skills.
The developmental domains that are found on the KOT have been directly linked and aligned to the essential domains of school readiness and the New Mexico Content Standards.
Why are students being assessed?
Understanding the developmental characteristics of children as they enter school and the types of early experiences that are linked to school success are of great interest to state stakeholders, including educators at the preschool and elementary levels, program developers, early childhood researchers, and parents. Assessing students at the start of kindergarten is one way to help these stakeholders understand children’s developmental strengths and limitations. Because of this, a growing demand has emerged for reliable and trustworthy assessments that describe what children know and are able to do when they enter kindergarten. In a comprehensive assessment system, this information also can be used as a catalyst to strategically address the preparedness of all children for the challenges of subsequent grades (Saluja, Scott-Little, & Clifford, 2000).
Research also suggests that carefully designed kindergarten readiness assessments can be used to support children’s development and measure their readiness for standards-based learning (Ackerman & Barnett, 2005; National Research Council [NRC], 2009; Shepard, Kagan, & Wurtz, 1998; Stedron & Berger, 2010). Finally, longitudinal research focusing on achievement gaps among middle and high school students has found those gaps to have been observed as early as kindergarten (Stedron & Berger, 2010).
How are the students assessed?
The KOT is an observational assessment. Observational assessments involve the student’s teacher watching students as they engage in normal day-to-day classroom activities and evaluating their performance. KOT observations will be conducted during the course of “normal” day-to-day instruction. Teachers will record observations then determine which one of the performance levels best describes the behaviors observed using the descriptors to guide decision-making. The student’s performance is compared to a specific learning objective or performance standard and not to the performance of other students.
How is the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) supporting the participating teachers and districts?
The PED has been very involved in the process of the KOT development. PED early learning staff members have sought input and feedback from a variety of New Mexico stakeholders, gathering information through surveys, focus groups, and pilot testing. Future plans for the KOT include, teacher and administrator trainings, field testing, as well as additional surveys and focus groups. The PED is utilizing the Regional Education Cooperatives Association (RECA) to support districts in their implementation of the KOT. The RECA is composed of nine Regional Education Cooperatives located throughout New Mexico.
How does the KOT work in coordination with DIBELS Next or other assessments I already administer in my classroom?
To The KOT is a separate assessment from DIBELS Next and currently does not coordinate in an official capacity with currently administered assessments. Information gathered by other assessments may relate to an indicator, but the process of the KOT is meant to gather that information in a unique way, through observation. While other assessments give us valid data, the KOT is a separate tool. Information from other assessments should not be used to rate a student on the KOT. Teachers may choose to use student information they obtain from other assessments they already administer in their classroom to supplement the results of the KOT.
Does the KOT replace other Kindergarten assessments (DIBELS, Discovery Education, MAPS, etc.)?
No, the KOT does not replace other Kindergarten assessments.
When is the KOT administered?
For K-3 Plus participating sites, the KOT is administered during the K-3 Plus program by the K-3 Plus kindergarten teachers. For all other sites, the KOT is administered over the course of the first 30 instructional days of the school year, beginning with the first full day of instruction.
How often will the KOT be administered?
The KOT will be utilized by every New Mexico kindergarten classroom beginning with the 2016-17 school year. The administration occurs once a year.
Who can administer the KOT?
Currently only New Mexico kindergarten teachers and long-term substitute teachers who complete the KOT Teacher Training may administer the KOT.
How can others provide support to teachers with KOT administration?
Teachers will be supported with KOT administration by many members of the education community. KOT Trainers will provide in-person training for each teacher planning on administering the KOT. The state KOT Coordinator will provide policy guidance and assistance with KOT administration issues. PED technology staff will be supporting teachers with any issues related to data entry, reporting or the KOT application.
How long does the KOT take to administer?
The KOT is intended to become an integrated part of curriculum and instruction. To that end, the KOT does not have a required length of administration or a target amount of time to complete. Since the KOT is based on teacher observations, one perspective is that the assessment could span the entire first 30 instructional days.
Is there a specific sequence for completing the KOT for each of my students?
No. Students are evaluated against indicators as they demonstrate relevant skills. There is no prescribed order or sequence.
What is the benefit to administering the KOT once at the beginning of the year?
Assessing students at the start of kindergarten is one way to understand children’s developmental strengths and limitations, the knowledge of which can be used to support children’s development and measure their readiness for standards-based learning (Ackerman & Barnett, 2005; National Research Council [NRC], 2009; Shepard, Kagan, & Wurtz, 1998; Stedron & Berger, 2010). The importance of early childhood experiences has long been recognized as a cornerstone in the foundation for language development, cognitive development, and social and emotional development (Snow & Van Hemel, 2008; National Governors’ Association [NGA], 2005; Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, 2005).
What if my district requires that I administer other initial assessments to all my students? Can I use the information that I collect for that process for the KOT?
Information from other assessments cannot be used as a replacement for a KOT observation. Assessments that are not observational in nature cannot be directly applied to the KOT. However, the information and results that are reflected upon from other assessments may be combined with KOT results to inform the instructional decisions that are made by kindergarten teachers.
What technology components are required?
The PED has developed a KOT application that provides an option for teachers to access the KOT on their desktop computers, tablets, and mobile devices. KOT indicators and data recording resources are also available on paper. All teachers will be required to enter final student performance data into an online data collection system. Reports will also be generated via an online system.
Are all schools required to use the KOT?
Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, all kindergarten classrooms in districts and charter schools will be required to use the KOT.
Is the observational process different for students with other home languages than English?
No. Responses observed for the KOT indicators will be accepted in the child’s home language.
What should be done if a student enters my classroom after the school year has started?
The KOT should be implemented for students who have entered the classroom after the school year has started if the student has entered within the first 15 instructional days.
What should be done if a student leaves my classroom during KOT window?
Scores entered in the KOT online will remain in the system and with the student. Un-assign the student from the class roster and another teacher can assign the student to his or her roster and will be able to view those ratings as well as enter additional observations.
What should be done if a student enters my classroom after the KOT window?
The KOT is not required to be administered after the KOT window-the first 30 instructional days of the school year.
What should I do if a student is excessively absent?
If a student is excessively absent and it is not possible to observe all of the KOT indicators in an accurate manner, the teacher should leave any incomplete indicators blank. Students who attend 20 out of the 25 K-3 Plus days should have a complete record of final ratings submitted by the K-3 Plus teacher. Students who attend 24 out of 30 instructional days at the beginning of the year should have a complete record of final ratings submitted by the beginning of year teacher.
How can I collect evidence to support rubric ratings?
Evidence collection is not a requirement of the KOT. Teachers will be provided with resources to assist them in scoring student performance and recording observations.
What should teachers do if the student does not demonstrate a skill at first but does demonstrate it within the observation period?
Some students will have multiple observations related to an indicator or skill. If teachers have a student that demonstrates progress related to an indicator during the 30 instructional day window then their “final” score would be identified by the student’s most representative performance level.
Do I wait until the end of the administration window to enter data?
Teachers may enter data at any point during the administration window. The only requirement is that all data is entered by the 15h of October.
Can educational assistants help with any part of the administration?
Educational assistants can provide their feedback and observations via a process set up by the teacher, but cannot and should not be inputting data or rating students on the KOT. Administering the KOT is the responsibility of the trainer KOT Administrator, the teacher.
Can physical education teachers observe and enter data for the objectives related to students’ physical development?
Physical education teachers can provide their feedback and observations via a process set up by the teacher, but cannot and should not be inputting data or rating students on the KOT. Administering the KOT is the responsibility of the trainer KOT Administrator, the teacher.
What training is required for teachers?
Teachers are required to attend the KOT training provided by their district KOT Trainer or Regional Trainer.
When will the trainings be offered?
Trainings will be scheduled by the district KOT Trainer or Regional Trainer. Trainings will be hosted throughout Spring and Summer.
How can I register for training?
Training registration will be coordinated by the KOT Trainers, or Regional Trainer.. You should be receiving registration instructions via email from your KOT Trainer. If you have not received registration information please contact your district or Regional KOT Trainer. If you do not receive a response from your district or Regional KOT Trainer please contact the state KOT Coordinator. Regional training opportunities will be posted on the Training Page of the KOT website. http://ped.state.nm.us/ped/LiteracyEarlyChildhoodEd_KOT_training.html
What training is required to become a KOT trainer?
You must attend a KOT Trainer training.
What qualifications are required to be a district trainer?
To become a district KOT trainer, a recommendation by your district for the position and attendance at a KOT Trainer training is required.